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Michigan State and athletic department criticized in explosive ESPN report

An investigation into Michigan State University and its athletic department by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” found “a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and suppression of information regarding such allegations by officials from campus police to the Spartan athletic department … well beyond the highly publicized case of former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar.”

The more than 6,000-word report on the investigation, headlined “Michigan State’s secrets extend far beyond the Larry Nassar case,” was released Friday afternoon and, if accurate, could further shake the beleaguered and embarrassed university.

A one-hour special edition of “E:60” will air Sunday at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on ESPN, detailing what the network says is a comprehensive failure by Michigan State to adequately address numerous reports of sexual assault and allegations of violence against student-athletes and members of the athletic department.

“Even MSU’s best-known figures, football coach Mark Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo, have had incidents related to their programs, Outside the Lines found,” ESPN’s Paula Lavigne writes in the in-depth report, which also included work by investigative reporter John Barr, investigative producer Nicole Noren and editor Dan Murphy.

The sensational report came the same week that Nassar was sentenced by a Lansing, Michigan, court to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse, some of it in his role as a doctor for MSU’s athletic department.

Based on never-before-published reports of sexual or violent incidents allegedly covered up by a number of university or university-affiliated officials, it provides a compelling and detailed justification of how deep the dysfunction may be at the Big Ten school, which this week already saw the resignations of university president Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis.

Hollis resigned Friday, two days after Outside the Lines held interviews with several administrators and athletic officials, including Hollis, Izzo and Dantonio, and informed MSU of the key findings of its investigation, ESPN reported.

The university declined to answer specific questions, according to the network, but issued a statement on Thursday that said, in part: “Over the past few years, we have allocated significant new resources to strengthen our efforts to combat sexual violence. Every day, people across campus are working diligently on this critical issue. However, we recognize that at times we have fallen short of our goals and the expectations of others. It is clear that more needs to be done, and we are using all available resources to improve.”

Larry Nassar sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse

The situation is eerily similar to that at Baylor University, which ultimately led to the resignations of the university president, athletic director and football coach.

The state of Michigan is facing numerous Title IX lawsuits and is under federal investigation.

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